November 10, 2005
"In But Not of" California
Here are some thoughts, in no particular order, upon further reflection on the California elections.
Where were you conservatives?
Hugh Hewitt rightly points out that Arnold Schwarzenegger has not really reached out to the conservative base of the California Republican Party:
Name the conservative icon upon whom you depend and to whom you go for solid advice? There isn't one.
Name the single conservative cause with which you are associated.
Spending restraint? Private property rights? Limits on abortion? Second Amendment advocacy? Judges?
You have picked fights with all the right people, but over what? Redistricting that might have cost the GOP crucial seats in D.C., a spending cap that wasn't, teacher tenure tweaks? Again, mixing it up with the public employee unions was fine, but off-year elections aren't exactly gladiator time, especially when the budget got passed because your advisors didn't want a show-down in the summer....
Bring in some senior advisors with pedigrees on the right and listen to them. Ask Bruce Herschensohn to spend a couple of days a week in the offices, as a "minsiter without portfolio." You don't have to do a thing he recommends, but there is no more respected figure on the California right than Bruce. Associated with Bruce, but also with Reagan, is Ken Khachigian. Ask Ken to take up a post somewhere on the battlements. And raid Hoover --get Robinson to convene a three day idea-fest with the folks who haven't spent their lives trading quarter percents with Sacramento's lobbyists.
But this is a rare moment when I'm really going to take Hugh to the woodshed. All right, Mr. Smarty-Pants Political Mavin... where the hell were Bruce Herchensohn and Ken Khachigian in this bloody ballot fight?
What is Hugh's point? That Herschensohn could have helped us out, but that he sat on his hands and did nothing because he didn't get a personal invitation from the governor? Well for God's sake, neither did I: but I did everything I could to push for these initiatives, in particular the two most important ones: Propositions 75 (paycheck protection) and 77 (redistricting reform). Just click on the Politics - California topic on the right (it's under Politics).
I'm sure those posts must have bored a lot my non-Californian readers. But I wouldn't give up; this is my state, and I'm not going to hand it over to the corrupt Left without a fight.
Evidently, Brush Herschensohn made a different choice.
If "there is no more respected figure on the California right than Bruce," then why the hell can't I find him on the front lines? Or even the rear guard? Did he even write a column about these initiatives? I sure didn't see it, and I can't find one now.
How about Tom Campbell? Bill Simon? Where was everybody? For that matter, where was Hugh Hewitt? The only California story I recall on Hugh's site in the past few weeks, the very time that the initiatives started to have trouble, was about the UC San Diego student who made a porn film. I listen to Hugh's radio show pretty religiously (I don't mean I don phylacteries; I mean I listen every day), and I don't recall any segments devoted to, say, paycheck protection, or even to Proposition 73, that would have required a waiting period and parental notification before a minor got an abortion. If there were, it wasn't enough for me to notice, let alone Hugh's readers who weren't sure whether they would vote. I guess Hugh Hewitt is "in but not of" California.
It's nice he found time to lecture Schwarzenegger about why he lost; but why couldn't Hugh find time to fight for the initiatives while he still had a chance to change the outcome, when he could have fired up the base? In fact, damned few California bloggers or pundits pitched in to help, and almost no well-known conservative (or at least Republican) politicians. Where were Pete Wilson and George Deukmeijian?
How many people did the Cal-GOP bus to the polls? How many did they call and remind about the election, urge to vote? I know I got exactly ZERO phone calls from human beings urging me to support these initiatives; I did get a couple from Democratic activists trying to talk me into voting against them. I even called the local Glendale GOP headquarters myself several times, asking what I could do to help the election: they said "we'll get back to you," and of course they never did.
This is Dan Lungren and Matt Fong all over again. This was a very low-turnout election. Had the conservative base turned out and voted, we would have won -- at least on a few of the initiatives, including the most important one, Proposition 75 (paycheck protection).
Look, Arnold Schwarzenegger is not a conservative. He has never claimed to be a conservative. Yet he has done many things for conservatives in this mixed state in the past two years: for example, he vetoed the same-sex marriage bill, despite the fact that he supports same-sex marriage, because the voters had voted against it.
He refused to raise taxes, even when that would have made it much easier to cut a deal with the Democrats in the legislature. And he pushed an initiative onto the ballot that was undeniably conservative -- a big one, too: Proposition 75 would have required public-employee unions to get written permission before using any membership dues money for political purposes. Not only that, but the Governator also endorsed Proposition 73, which put restrictions on abortion. Conservatives can maybe argue against Propositions 74 (teacher tenure reform), 76 (state spending restrictions), and 77 (redistricting reform) for not being "pure" enough conservatism... but 73 and 75 were purer than Ivory Soap.
And of course, since no good deed goes unpunished, how did conservatives respond? By sitting on their hands and refusing to turn out and vote. Great strategy, guys! Now guess what? Hugh's advice to Schwarzenegger has become garbage, because the governor is now the lamest of all lame ducks. As Daniel Weintraub noted, the reason Schwarzenegger went to the ballot box in the first place was that the Democrats in the State Senate and the Assembly refused to negotiate in good faith. So he went over their heads to the people.
And because the conservatives refused to turn out, they turned the governor's threats into idle smoke. Now Schwarzenegger has absolutely nothing to bargain with, nothing he can threaten, and the only things he can offer is Liberalism Lite.
Gee... how much good-faith negotiating with Governor Schwarzenegger do you suppose the Democrats intend to engage in now? How much of the conservative agenda do you think will get enacted? Smooth move, Ex-Lax.
Sometimes I completely understand why we're so often called "the stupid party." I know many of you weren't thrilled with every initiative Schwarzenegger was pushing, and you're angry that you can't get a hard-core conservative governor in this blue state, and you wish he were Ronald Reagan. But for God's sake, even Reagan knew enough to understand that if half a loaf is all that you can get, you take it and be glad... then you start bargaining for the other half.
But you know what we have now? Crumbs. Bupkis. And now there's about a 50-50 chance we'll have Governor Angelides by January 2007. Let's do the math: ultra-leftist state legislature + left-liberal governor = what?
I suspect conservatives who sat home and sulked may soon come to feel like the Sunnis shortly after that first election. The only difference is, we won't get a Mulligan.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 10, 2005, at the time of 1:09 AM
TrackBack URL for this hissing: http://biglizards.net/mt3.36/earendiltrack.cgi/200
The following hissed in response by: RonC
“Where were you conservatives?”
Well, most of the dedicated went to the polls - but, ‘we were outnumbered by boob-tube-numbed leftists marching to the tune of three hundred million lying ads promising eternal doom if any of Arnie’s propositions passed - so all were defeated.’ Or so some GOP members might think... but, the truth is more complex and quite different.
First, lets get things in perspective. Ronald Reagan tried the same thing in 1971 - a mid-term ballot proposition on limiting spending, attempting to bring fiscal sanity, etc., etc. It was defeated by similar margin to yesterdays election. Voters then - particularly many hard-core traditional conservative ones - did not like direct democracy in government, and many conservatives today still do not - our Founders uttered too many dire warnings about the consequences and dangers of direct democracy.
When things get nasty in Sacramento, our ‘representatives’ often get lazy and afraid, and all too often shirk their responsibilities by saying - let’s let the people decide. That is when they (each party sometimes - as in this election) scribble their ideas on a proposition, and run it by the voters.
This time, as in 1971, and in more instances than not, the voters have simply said, “NO, do your bloody job - represent us, fight it out and then vote on it. At least that way we know who the good guys are, and who the fools are within our legislature - and what you had to say about the issue on the legislative floor.”
Note that not only did the first six propositions (conservative) fail - but last two - the two socialist-left propositions failed by even larger margins. You can rest assured that many a Democrat also had to vote against those last two, in order to get that margin of defeat. Yes, there are some Democrats far more conservative than GOP affiliated voters.
So - to answer your question - I can categorically state that I know that many Republicans voted NO on all eight propositions, and explained carefully to me why they would not vote any other way (though they need not have...)
Note, I am a long-term dues paying GOP member (hope you understand what that means, If not I’ll enlighten) so I have had far more feedback from average conservative voters than 99% of scribblers in media or the talking heads you hear on radio or TV.
I note the extension of this post, re Hugh, and other GOP alum - and the need for some further comment. I'll follow with a second post to wit...
The following hissed in response by: RonC
“How about Tom Campbell? Bill Simon? Where was everybody?”
Campbell and Simon both put in time (amount unknown to me) and effort (I saw them) - most all MSM ignored, but did not go unseen or unobserved by the active base. Everybody (big names, I assume)? There were dozens of others, I’ll attempt to put together a partial list later and let you know what I can of where they were and what they did. I shook hands with many... I enjoyed talking a lot with Tom McClintock.
“How many did they [GOP] call and remind about the election, urge to vote? I know I got exactly ZERO phone calls from human beings urging me to support these initiatives...”
I can’t tell you how many, but the number ran in the high hundreds of thousands - to high propensity voters. I personally received so many calls that I had to take the phone off the hook - for days! I personally called hundreds - and wore out a pair of shoes putting door hangers on GOP dwellings. I too wanted to see passed the same two initiatives you favored.
We lost for many reasons - the primary being money spent (TV ads.) We were outspent more than 5 to 1 - Arnie put in 4 million dollars of his own personal money. The GOP electorate was expected to be, and were, extra-typically tight fisted. Why? Many simply don’t like what Arnie has done in office, and don’t trust him - others absolutely love him. Secondarily we lost because people (yes, supposedly conservative) just don’t LIKE to vote in these kinds of elections - they claim ‘it’s too complicated.” They won’t take the time to read, and understand what is at stake. I could tell you stories you simply would not believe.
But - we didn’t lose as much as you might think we did - nationally, or locally within the state. We’ve done two things - we’ve forced Democrats to the bargaining table, and we’ve opened a broad public debate on the performance of the Democrat dominated state legislature - and they know it. More to tell at some point - this is waaay too long.
The following hissed in response by: RonC
One last parting shot...
..then it's bedtime.
I can tell you that, quite frankly, the CA GOP is in the hands of non-conservatives. But, what that means, and how it happened is a long story most people simply don't want to know about.
For example - I like to ask people, "What election takes place every two years, in Sacramento, by state law, that should be the most important election to conservatives?" I can tell you that 99.99% of conservative voters haven't the faintest clue.
If the majority did know - we would not be where we are today in California. But, that takes too much effort for most people to even attempt to get their brain around. To most people, sadly conservative ones, good government just isn't worth having to think beyond a few seconds about.
The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh
We’ve done two things - we’ve forced Democrats to the bargaining table, and we’ve opened a broad public debate on the performance of the Democrat dominated state legislature - and they know it.
Au contraire (pardon my French), I think we have done the opposite: by destroying the Republican governor and showing conservatives to be toothless, we have relieved the Democrats of any further need to attend the bargaining table, and we have closed any debate on Democratic performance that might have been about to start.
From this point until after November 2006, the Democratic caucus in the lege (that's almost enough to override vetoes, by the way) will completely ignore Schwarzenegger, completely ignore the scant few Republicans left forever mired in the gerrymander they enthusiastically supported (it being far more urgent that they personally remain in office than that the state have competitive districts), and do nothing but preen for their fellow left-liberal Democrats.
They will be 100% convinced that Phil Angelides will be the next governor and that he will sign all of their bills, no matter how illegal (or insane). So they will see no reason to toss even the least sliver of bone to the right. And the MSM will float right along in the sewer beside them, giving them cover and making life a living hell for Republicans in general and Arnold Schwarzenegger in particular.
The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh at November 10, 2005 4:49 AM
The following hissed in response by: RonC
"..will completely ignore Schwarzenegger.."
Well, they might try, but they won't be able to ignore his veto pen, or the published reasons why he vetoed proposed legislation. Yeah, it might seem like he is toothless, but Arnie isn't completely out of the picture - yet, as Dems have not been able to override vetoes yet (pick off GOP members needed.)
I DO agree with you that the chickens are coming home to roost on GOP complicity on the current gerrymander - and the fact that some sitting GOP legislators actively campaigned against passage of 77. That certainly didn’t endear them with voters on the right - or enhance their political future.
Is all hope lost? I think not really...
Where we are going could be very similar to what happened under Jerry Brown - which won’t be pretty, or acceptable to CA Democrat voters. Will Arnie take all the blame, and eliminate any chance for a future GOP governor? I don’t think so, nor do I think conservatives will sit out the next election - if we have a real conservative in the running, and I think we will.
The following hissed in response by: Anthony (Los Angeles)
I was pretty disappointed in Hugh's comments, and agree with you that he could and should have done more. I'm particularly irked that he dissed 77, which I regarded as a cornerstone to reforming the sclerotic political process in this state. Hugh makes it sound as if he's more concerned with keeping a Republican majority in Congress, even if it's maintained by methods only an oligarchy could love, than with the health of democracy in this state.
Oh, well. Arnie's pretty badly weakened for the next couple of years. Nothing left for those of us who care about California but to work on the next attempt in 2008.
The above hissed in response by: Anthony (Los Angeles) at November 10, 2005 8:44 AM
The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh
[N]or do I think conservatives will sit out the next election - if we have a real conservative in the running, and I think we will.
RonC, I think you're missing a big point here, one that conservatives invariably miss: California is not a conservative state.
I think you imagine that if the vote came down to an ultraliberal like Angelides versus a "real conservative," that the latter would win.
Sorry, but this is completely wrong. In that hypothetical vote, Angelides would walk away with 59% of the vote. First, California has gotten much more liberal in the last few cycles. Second, it was never particularly conservative to begin with: not even George Deukmeijian ran as a conservative; he was only elected, by the film on his tongue, because he was running against Tom Bradley, who inexplicably decided to throw his weight behind a total gun ban just eight days before the election. And Deukmeijian is about as conservative as we've gotten since Ronald Reagan knocked off Pat Brown in 1966.
Pete Wilson is a moderate (almost liberal) Republican, and he ran against DiFi -- who managed to anger a lot of voters by her campaign, which sought to portray her as the real victim of the murder of Sam Moskone.
Third, there are no "real conservatives" who are even very well known statewide, let alone with the stature of Attorney General and former Majority Leader in the Senate George Deukmeijian before he was elected governor (assuming you even consider him one).
You're right: if we have a "real conservative" running in 2006, conservatives won't "sit out" the election... they will vote -- all 18% of them. And an additional 20% (the moderate/liberal Republicans) will hold their noses and vote the party. Another 10% (liberal/moderate Republican Hispanics) will hold their noses and vote for Angelides; and all of the Democrats will gleefully for for him, giving him another 49%. The race will end up 59% for Angelides, 38% for your "real conservative," and the rest will vote for Peter Camejo or Ralph Nader.
If you want a Republican in the state house, rather than dear, old Phil, then you need to find a moderate who is acceptable to the moderate Republicans and tolerable to the conservatives... and preferably Hispanic, since they tend to bloc-vote when there is a Hispanic on the ticket, regardless of party or even political ideology.
Arnold Schwarzenegger might be able to be reelected, depending whether he can mobilize the non-Republican, non-voting majority that elected him in the recall; a lot of moderate Republicans will vote for him because (a) he is the party's nominee, and (b) they're scared to death of Angelides.
The conservatives will of course sit out the election, preferring to have an ultra liberal as governor with an ultraliberal legislature, so long as they maintain their absolute purity of essence. But the voters who are only voting at all because it's Ahnold will make up for them... I hope.
(Conservatives have always had this demented idea that after four years of ultraliberalism, the voters will be so disgusted that they will finally vote for that mythical "real conservative" they've pined for lo these many decades. Of course, the state will have been destroyed by then, but hey, "Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n.")
The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh at November 10, 2005 12:50 PM
The following hissed in response by: senorlechero
Forget about electing a Repbulican Governor in '06. California is toast........burnt toast
It's time for the bulk of CA to break off from the Left Coast (LA to the Oregon border) and form a new state. That is the only way we in San Diego, Riverside, Orange and most other counties will ever be honestly represented again
See my post at http://senorlechero.blogspot.com/2005/11/time-for-51st-statesouthern-california.html
The above hissed in response by: senorlechero at November 10, 2005 1:36 PM
The following hissed in response by: SDN
"Conservatives have always had this demented idea that after four years of ultraliberalism, the voters will be so disgusted that they will finally vote for that mythical "real conservative" they've pined for lo these many decades."
Daffyd, I've been dealing with this type of religious belief for decades. When Don Siegelman got elected in 98(?) in Alabama, the local head of the Christian Coalition got on TV and said it might be a good thing, because an immoral governor would get Jesus to come back for the End Times....
Politics is the art of settling for half a loaf... this time. "We're going to take our marbles and go home because Bush isn't doing something the way we would." Right, guys, and President Hildebeeste will? "Hey, four years of Hillary and they'll be ready for a real conservative!" Sure, and in the meantime we can all live with the results for decades... and that assumes you're right!
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